Monday, June 12, 2006

Coffee for Veterans

...writing the post title brings wandering thoughts to mind about the possibility of opening a little coffee shop "for veterans"... but that's not what this post is about.

There is plenty to tell about what has taken place since coming home from Iraq the first of the year. I can't fit it all into this post. My lingering participation with the military through the Minnesota National Guard has been challenging in so many unexpected ways. I feel out of place; I have far less responsibility now than I did while deployed; and the whole "periodic training and readiness" seems such a farce. For example, quarterly performance reviews by my supervisor are based on six to eight days, the number of drill days in a quarter. I get preoccupied with the simultaneous waste and enrichment brought on by deployment, absorbing a year and a half of my life. I find myself turning that over and over in my mind whenever I have to "go back in" monthly. I was in Minneapolis for drill this last weekend, and I'm not sure if anything else could have gone wrong!

I booked a hotel in an suburb I thought was close to the unit armory -- nope. I was a twenty-minute drive away, but I didn't realize this until I had reached the hotel at 2 a.m. Friday/Saturday -- one full hour of frustrated, lost searching for it. We (I brought Jenn with me -- a very pleasant aspect of the trip) opened the trunk only to discover that I had left my garmet bag, uniforms, boots and head gear at home -- 4.5 hours away! Luckily I had a "field" uniform stuffed into one of my bags. I did my best, Sharpie marker for rank, missing patches, to salvage something wearable for the weekend. I lost an ID (found it), the hotel dropped my wake-up call the second day (causing 45-minute late arrival), and I was kept awake the first night by loud moans from the next hotel room over. I couldn't believe how consistently clumsly, forgetful and unorganized I was for 48 hours straight. All of my idiocy was countered only by good company and family support...

Jennifer and I went out Saturday evening -- first to Nordstrom's at the MOA for frangrance sampling. What fun! We went from there to TGIFriday's for exquisite food (Key Lime Shrimp for me) and drinks. Has anyone heard of a Colorado Bulldog?? Sunday, Abe came south to join us, where we enjoyed dinner prepared by Jenn's sister and conversation with her folks. I followed the dinner with coffee at Carabou with my friend Tom.

It is so easy to feel like the struggles of coming home are imaginary. They are every-bit my issue, but it's consoling on occasion to talk to someone else whose "uphill battle" originates from the same source as mine. There was an hour of conversation about current happenings, getting into school programs to resurrect our post-secondary and graduate pursuits, and "staying positive." I felt refreshed. It was a good day. Whether I like it or not, the military is a part of me. I'm dealing with that now, nearly eight years after signing up.

I no longer wish I was back in Iraq. I'm weaning myself off from wishing, gradually replacing it with equal parts doing. I QUIT SMOKING!! One goal down, dozens to go. I'll keep you posted.

8 Comments:

At 6/23/2006 10:14 AM, Blogger Nic said...

Hi, Tommi. Thank you for posting about your readjustment experiences. My brother-in-law just got back from reserve training (6 months, Basic and Advanced) and he is struggling to reaclimate. It's hard to understand what that must be like, and your post has reminded me that for those of us on the "outside" it takes time and patience and love.

And coffee.

The coffee shop for veterans is a fabulous idea!

 
At 6/29/2006 11:50 PM, Blogger Mary Godwin said...

I am glad Tom was there for you. He is not the only one, and I know you know. There are many who remember and need remembrance. I am proud of you and all of them. God bless the men and women who stand and fall in service to this country. -mg

 
At 6/30/2006 11:39 AM, Blogger Sentinel 47 said...

Thank you both for your comments. Networking among us serves as reminder that we are not alone. Keep reading!

 
At 7/14/2006 10:09 PM, Anonymous Winston said...

Glad to hear the easing back in and easing down are going as well as they are. Hang in there with the smoking cessation. It is not easy. I know because I quit about a year ago. You may slip, but don't beat yourself silly over it. And dont let that be the excuse to start up again. Just hunker back down and keep after it...

 
At 7/24/2006 11:53 AM, Anonymous Jim said...

Thank you for your service. Glad you're home.

Jim
Augusta, GA

 
At 8/18/2006 2:59 AM, Blogger Quaddle said...

Keep with it. Smoking is for artists and hicks. It's a sort of poetry in and of itself. I smoke as an act of political defiance.

 
At 8/19/2006 11:04 AM, Blogger Quaddle said...

Which is to say you should never do it again...if that makes sense...hell.

 
At 8/19/2006 11:55 AM, Blogger Sentinel 47 said...

Thanks for the clarification, Quaddle. (I think I caught your meaning anyway.) I'm still "quit" -- three months later. Thanks for the encouragement. ~t

 

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